Gavel With Medical Stethoscope

Malpractice Lawsuits: Vocabulary

If you’ve ever been wrongfully injured by your medical practitioner and have met all the necessary requirements for a medical or dental malpractice lawsuit, the idea of going through the entire process can still seem a little overwhelming to anyone who is unfamiliar with how the legal system works.

The case and possible trial will obviously require someone who is experienced with that system, and we can help you navigate the process and make sure you understand everything that is going on.

Even with a legal expert, though, a malpractice lawsuit can be nerve-wracking, especially with the unknown legal words and jargon thrown around.

While your lawyer may explain the legal process to you and do most of the leg-work, knowing some basic malpractice lawsuit vocabulary words can boost your confidence and take away a lot of that uncertainty you likely have going into your case.

Even if you’ve heard and regularly use some of these words, they may have a completely different context in the legal world.

Here is some common legal jargon you may hear in conjunction with your case:

Adjudicate:  To judge or to settle a case or a dispute.

Affidavit:  A written oath made before an official.

Allegation:  An assertion made by one party which that party will then have to prove.

Arbitration:  The hearing and deciding of a dispute. This is when the differences between two parties are settled with a mutual agreement.

Claim:  A malpractice claim can assert either mental or physical harm to a patient that is a clear result of negligence by a medical professional.

Comparative Negligence:  Reduces damages awarded in a malpractice suit because the plaintiff contributed to his or her injury in a way that is comparable to the amount of negligence of the defendant.

Compensation:  Something provided to the plaintiff to make up for loss and suffering.

Complainant (Plaintiff):  The party that files the lawsuit. In this case, it refers to the injured patient or family member of the injured patient.

Contingency Fee:  The fees the plaintiff agrees to pay the lawyer if and when they win the lawsuit.

Damages:  Monetary compensation awarded by the court to the plaintiff.

Defendant:  The party (in this case, the medical personnel) that the plaintiff (patient) files the lawsuit against.

Duty:  The legal obligation for medical professional to maintain a certain standard of care.

Default:  The failure of either party in a lawsuit to answer a complaint or follow through with the necessary steps of the legal proceedings.

Deposition:  The oral testimonies of witnesses or a party taken before a trial.

Discovery:  A pre-trial process where the defendant must disclose any information that it alone possesses and is necessary for the plaintiff’s case.

Established Customary Standard of Care:  The average qualified medical professional must provide this level of care to a patient who sought their help for similar symptoms and circumstances.

Evidence:  Can include witness testimonies, written documents, or other objects that could be used in court as proof to a claim.

Exhibit:  An object or document used as physical evidence in a court case.

Fraud:  Any false or misleading claims or statements that deceive others to surrender their legal rights or something of great value.

Gross Negligence:  The intentional lack of the proper standard of care which then results in an injury to the patient.

Incompetence:  When the proper, legal standard of care can’t be upheld or practiced.

Liability:  A law-bound obligation that a person is required to perform.

Litigation:  The process of filing a lawsuit.

Medical Incident:  Errors, omissions, and negligence performed by a medical professional throughout the process of providing medical care.

Malpractice:  Anytime a medical professional does not follow the proper, legal standard of care which then leads to patient injury or harm.

 Malpractice Caps:  The maximum amount a plaintiff can seek in compensation.

Mitigating Circumstances:  When an offense isn’t pardoned, but it is judged that the degree of fault can be reduced.

Negligence:  When the extent of patient care falls below the standard of care established by law.

Personal Injury:  All the physical, mental, emotional and financial injuries a patient sustains due to the defendant’s negligence.

Preponderance of Evidence:  The amount of evidence a patient needs to win his or her malpractice lawsuit.

Proximate Cause:  When some event is so closely related to the injury, even if it wasn’t specifically a medical accident or negligence, that it may be deemed the cause of the injury.

Retainer:  The advanced payment of lawyer fees and costs by the client.

Rebuttal:  The evidence used by the opposing party to explain or disprove facts.

Standard of Care:  The level of care which a reasonable person would have undertaken given the same circumstance.

Statute of Limitations:  The legal timeframe the plaintiff has to file a lawsuit.

Strict Liability:  Holds the medical professional liable for the patient harm caused by their negligence.

Stipulation:  A business agreement between the attorneys designed to shorten the legal proceedings to save costs.

Subpoena: A formal document that orders an individual to appear in court at a certain time to give a testimony.

No one wants to experience a malpractice event, but if you’ve suffered significant injury, a lawsuit is the best course of action for adequate compensation.

At Chianese and Reilly, LLC, our experienced NY malpractice attorneys and lawyers can help you with your malpractice case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.